Are you envious of people who blog consistently every week, or even every day, while you struggle to come up with ideas? Do you churn out several posts within a few days, then neglect your blog for weeks or even months? Why not apply the same organizing principles you apply to your business and your client work? Like most activities, blogging is more efficient when it’s done according to a plan.
There are many different approaches to managing your blogging calendar.
The Editorial Calendar plugin for WordPress is a popular tool that places a calendar in your WordPress dashboard which links to the posts you’ve published, scheduled, or saved as drafts. You can then use this calendar to drag and drop posts which haven’t yet been published to a different day. Although there are obvious benefits to having your calendar built right into your WordPress site, there are downsides as well. If you come up with a great blog post idea when you don’t have access to the Internet, it means noting it somewhere else and having to remember to enter it into your calendar later on. Similarly, if you’re communicating with a potential guest blogger, it may not be convenient to log into your site to choose a suitable date. Furthermore, if you regularly write for several blogs, as I do, it means instead of having a nice streamlined schedule, you have to log into multiple blogs just to see what you need to be doing next.
For my own blogs, I use the monthly calendar which is part of my paper planner, as shown above. I start the year by entering the dates and topics for the Professional Organizers Blog Carnival, which is scheduled for the second Tuesday of each month. As Tuesdays are dedicated to Your Organizing Business (YOB), I enter any other topics that come to mind on the calendar, so I can easily see at a glance which dates are open. Guest bloggers are generally scheduled for alternate Thursdays. Although I’m working on it, I don’t currently have a set schedule for From the Desk of Janet Barclay, the Golden Horseshoe Virtual Assistants Group, or Introvert Retreat, so ideas for these blogs are planned around my YOB posts, and I try to spread them out over the course of the month. I always use pencil, so I can easily make changes without making a mess of everything.
Beckie of Infarrantly Creative uses a similar approach to mine, but has taken it a step further by developing a Printable Blog Planner which includes sections for ideas, statistics, and a to do list. She must be a really kind person, because she’s even included a box for a “blogger to encourage” each week AND she’s made it possible for you to download her pages for free – no opt-in or anything! Nice!
Speaking of free downloads, the Blogging Calendar & Planner from Blog Energizer is another great resource. Each weekly calendar page includes columns for Posts/Guest Posts, Emails, Promos, and Notes, as well as a blank column you can use however you like. In addition, it’s full of special days, weeks, and months, which can be very helpful when you’re looking for inspiration, as well as tips to help you be a better blogger.
Although I prefer pencil-and-paper for keeping track of my own schedule, it’s obviously not a practical tool for managing my clients’ blogs, where they need to access the information as well. I’ve found Google spreadsheets to be the perfect tool for this purpose. It’s very easy for me to customize the spreadsheet according to each client’s blogging schedule and the procedures we have in place. For clients who blog weekly or biweekly, the first column lists the dates, using a formula to minimize data entry, and the second column includes the topic or title. Additional columns may be used to keep track of the status of each post. For clients who blog multiple times per week, I set up a column for each day and a row for each week.
Due to client confidentiality I’m unable to share an example, however, the Content Marketing Institute has created an Editorial Calendar Template in Microsoft Excel format that is quite similar to what I use, which you can download to use on your own computer or import into Google and customize to meet your needs.
Although an editorial calendar doesn’t eliminate the need to generate ideas and write your blog posts, these tasks are easier when you can see at a glance when your posts are due. And if one day you’re feeling exceptionally creative, instead of publishing a whole bunch of posts in a row, you can enter all your pre-written content into your schedule, and perhaps even save some for a time when you’re struggling with writer’s block or you’re just too busy to think about your blog.
How do you organize your blogging?